Simple Gourmet: How To Peel Garlic

by | Nov 23, 2008

It came as a bit of a shock for me to learn that some people hate peeling garlic so much they have completely given up using it.

Sure the flavor is strong, but almost all cooks consider garlic indispensable. If peeling it is your problem, don’t fret! This one little trick makes garlic a cinch to peel.

First, remove single cloves from a very fresh garlic bulb (garlic is cheap, you should buy it every week). I rarely use more than one or two when cooking for two people.

Next, place the garlic clove on a cutting board oriented so that its curve is pointed upward, or at least sideways. There may be space beneath the clove, which is good. Grab a wide blade knife, such as a chef’s knife or santoku knife. Rest the flat end of the blade on the top of the garlic (as shown) and hit the top with the palm of your hand once or twice, quickly and firmly.

The impact will slightly crush the garlic clove while the outer skin retains its shape and becomes dislodged. Examine the clove and remove as much of the skin as you can (usually all of it). If some skin remains stuck to the clove hit it a few more times, using a bit more force. It does not matter if you damage the garlic.

Use the knife to cut off the hard end that attached the clove to the bulb. This may help to remove any remaining skin as well. If you still have some skin stuck to the clove, it should be easy to pick off at this point. If not, smash it a couple more times.

Recipes often called for minced garlic, so after I peel my clove I often crush it completely then make thin slices along the length, then width. Scrape off any pieces of garlic sticking to the side of the knife then quickly mince the remaining chunks. This entire process takes less than 1 minute.

It is a great idea to prepare your garlic at least 10-15 minutes before you plan to cook with it, something that makes it substantially healthier.

I can’t imagine this being any easier, but I am always happy to hear your suggestions and comments!

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17 Responses to “Simple Gourmet: How To Peel Garlic”

  1. Mike says:

    Funny to see how garlic has been industrialized though. Who knew that garlic can be bought as whole peeled cloves in a jar, minced garlic in a jar, or powdered and mixed with salt. Vampires beware!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’d have to say that adding real, fresh garlic to a dish makes a world of difference- must try it to believe it, I’ll never go back. Great garlic endorsement darya!

  3. Darya Pino says:

    Mike:Couldn’t agree more. The sad thing is all that old garlic doesn’t taste nearly as good as the fresh stuff.

  4. Darya Pino says:

    anon1:Thanks! *blush*

  5. Anonymous says:

    And an action shot of the garlic-beating- are those your hands?! What are you making in the picture that you need so many cloves? I count at least 9!

  6. Darya Pino says:

    anon2:That’s me! In this photo I am making soup for my house’s monthly Soup Night (serving 20+). That kabocha squash in the corner is a story all its own. I made the NYTimes Andean Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Quinoa. It was delicious!!Many different stories arose from this soup, so there are many related posts to come.Stay tuned!

  7. Healthyliving says:

    I actually like to smash the garlic too before dicing it because it brings out more of the aromatic oils and juices. I’ve been meaning to get one of those hand-held garlic presses…

  8. G says:

    You’ve got to try the garlic peeler device. I paid $9 bucks for it at Williams-Sonoma. It’s a plasticky cyclinder, you stick the clove, and roll it around, and presto!

  9. Healthyliving says:

    The garlic peeler looks pretty neat. W&S will find a unique gadget for every kitchen task though. This method attestment to the versitility and usefulness of a chef's knife, and why every respectable kitchen should have one.Here is the link to the garlic peeler btw

  10. j_d_hastings says:

    My friend just told me this trick over the phone on Saturday. I was hungover and am going from memory, so it may not be perfect but here goes:Take a full bulb of garlic, slice off the top (the fat end not the tip),for access to the cloves. Pour olive oil in the opening then put it on a pan with other veggies you’re roasting with the cut off part as the base. I don’t remember specific cooking times but assume its the same as normal for roasting veggie (I do 400 degrees ~20 minutes). Supposedly, once you’re done you just pinch the pointy part of the sheath and it pulls offeasily, as does most of the paper around individual cloves. Plus the oils that cook around the garlic coat the pan and affect nearby veggies. I haven’t tried this yet, but will as soon as I’m back from Thanksgiving. I’ll try to get more precise instructions for you.

  11. Toni Tiller says:

    for someone who was hungover you retain information really well JD, you got it 99% right. the only difference is that you pour the oil into a little puddle in the pan, not on the bulb itself, then you rest the open end of the garlic in the pan. the rest of the instructions including temp/cooking time are right on. the part of the garlic in the oil with become yummy and carmelized. i found the recipe here.

  12. Darya Pino says:

    Great suggestions everyone! I think that oven method is to make roasted garlic, right? A delicious treat, but not always interchangable with raw.

  13. Chinasaur says:

    Woo garlic! The knife bash is great. Although if you’re doing a whole lot of cloves, you can cut the tops off and, blanch them, and soak them briefly in cold water. Peels should slip off easily. Like peeling tomatoes.Also, as a bonus, the better tasting, hard-necked varieties from farmers markets are generally easier to peel than soft-necked from the grocery store.My problem with garlic is that I like it pretty raw and then I’ll sweat garlic the next day.

  14. Darya Pino says:

    FYI, you can get the garlic peeler a little cheaper at

  15. Anonymous says:

    My most common minced garlic usage is in scrambled eggs. A little butter or olive oil, just enough heat to brown the garlic, add some seasonal herbs and voi-la, an amazing egg dish! I’d love to hear other favorite uses of the underappreciated fresh garlic…

  16. Katie says:

    Can’t imagine why anyone would not use real garlic out of peeling-laziness…..great post!

  17. Darya Pino says:

    @MattMamma mia! It is taking me forever to get to the crushed garlic question, sorry.For now I will say that it does seem that garlic is somehow activated upon crushing, but I still do not understand the mechanism. Why would a mechanical stimulus activate an enzyme? I still don’t know.I think I will eventually do an entire post on this, so stay tuned.I am inclined to think this is a minor point, albeit a really interesting one. Can we really eat enough garlic for this to matter for our health? I guess it probably doesn’t hurt to do if you can remember to cut it up early enough 🙂

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